While it is important to remember that you are beautiful regardless of imperfections, acne sucks. One of the worst feelings in the world is when your skin flares up and there’s nothing you can do about it. Drinking large amounts of water and religiously follow a daily skincare routine is sometimes not enough. Hormone fluctuation has been linked to acne, especially in females. It is not uncommon to have a pimple or two, however, if you are consistently getting large and painful breakouts, you most likely have cystic acne.
I have been plagued with cystic acne since freshman year. In the past four years, I’ve tried every topical skincare product from Proactiv to Epiduo. I have taken a variety of birth control pills and medications in hopes that my skin would magically become clear. Regardless of my efforts, I was still seeing an influx of pimples ripping through the surface of my skin almost every day.
After seeing no improvements in my skin, my dermatologist finally prescribed me Isotretinoin. Isotretinoin, formerly known as the brand Accutane, is a retinoid drug that is used to treat cystic acne. It decreases sebum (facial oil) production and regulates androgen hormones. This drug is available in different brands. Initially, the medication may aggravate your skin. After about 2-3 months, you should begin to notice that your skin is significantly clearer. At this point, breakouts are not as frequent or severe. Patients are typically kept on this drug for approximately 5-6 months. Although often an excruciating course of treatment, it was the only substance that cleared my skin in the long run. After almost six months of taking Isotretinoin, I no longer have painful cystic acne.
Due to the strength of the medication, it is heavily regulated by the FDA through the iPLEDGE program. Isotretinoin can only be prescribed by a dermatologist and you must attend monthly checkups while on the medication. At these appointments, the doctor will observe you, make any necessary changes in your treatment and answer any questions you may have. Your dermatologist may subject you to a blood test to ensure your body is absorbing the medication or that your liver is not gravely damaged.
Regulation of Isotretinoin has become tighter if you are a child-bearing female since it causes severe birth defects. Before women can obtain their prescriptions, they’re required to state two birth control methods and answer a questionnaire promptly after a lab confirms that they are not pregnant. If you’re currently not sexually active you have the option to state that you are committed to abstinence for the course of this rigorous treatment. Women have to go through this process every month they are on the medication, as well as, one month after.
Isotretinoin can be a game-changer in treating your cystic acne. Nonetheless, it is vital to remember that Isotretinion is an extremely powerful drug with serious side effects.
Common side effects include dryness of the lips, nostrils, and eyes, due to your body’s decrease in oil production while taking the medication. Because the medication is processed in the liver, you cannot drink alcohol while on Accutane. Drinking alcohol can exaggerate liver-related side effects, leading to liver toxicity in rare cases. Despite the fact that Isotretinoin hasn’t been unanimously linked to depression, it is important that you take care of your mental health during this excruciating treatment. Dermatologists able to prescribe this medication are usually trained to screen for depression and other changes in behavior; however, if you begin to exhibit serious reactions to the drug, you must stop taking the medication and contact your doctor immediately.
There are various safer skin care treatments you can follow as an alternative to Isotretinoin. Your physical and mental health come before a clear complexion.
Although Isotretinoin comes with various health risks, it does have amazing long-term results. If you’re struggling with acne and have run out of options, speak to a dermatologist about Isotretinoin to see if it is a good option for you.